It is a blue sky day with warming temperatures at Covenant Living, in Golden Valley, Minnesota. It is the end of April, 2020. Soon the month of my birthday will be here. I will turn 91.
I'm alone in our small 800 square foot apartment. Molly is out and about, shopping to keep our quiet living going. A few things at Costco. Another stop or two on the way home. She left with her required mask on, to keep away the germs of the strange pandemic that has kept us all "locked down" as they can.
I've done my morning medical ablutions followed by multiple pills, and a sweet roll from my sweet wife, with a glass of juice.
I even remembered to tune in on our in-house TV station, the exercise and balance class Molly wanted me to try. Then I sat down to finish reading a Grisham novel, called The Last Juror. A horrendous murder mystery of intrigue, set in a small town of Mississippi; narrated by the voice of a 28-year-old young man who had become the owner and editor of the town's weekly newspaper.
The story didn't end as the reader was led to assume. I suppose it was the story of small town life, and the conclusions people draw.
But, it leaves me thinking of the realities and unrealities of our human lives. I have always loved being busy. I've made lists all my life and checked off the tiniest accomplishments of each day - never to be looked at again. I just like coming to day's end and thinking I'd accomplished something.
Molly gently reminds me, now in my nineties: "Arthur, you need to concentrate on BEING, rather than DOING." And I know she's right. For what I want to BE is a Jesus-follower. To truly look to Him. To try to live my life as He lived His. Meeting people in their need. Somehow responding to them. Listening to them. Helping them, by being with them. Using my last days on earth being with people who've become important to me. Dear to me. I should be loving them - faithfully. Jesus' wonderful last word to His closest friends: "I have a New Commandment for you. Love each other."
Such a simple thing. So deep, so important. It is what I really care about. I want to live that way.
Because that is the most real way to live. That leads us into the truest, most trusted, deepest reality - THE LIFE OF LOVE. Caring about each other.
Indirectly, I suppose our current pandemic is trying to teach us that. Live as if you want to keep others alive. Don't give them something you might have. Keep your distance. Serve the sick. Help your family by giving them space.
Upon reflection, I realize there are friends in my life who, knowing I'm under treatment for a blood disease, are wanting to be sure I know that I've meant something to them. The notes come. And that's the subject of what another life means. I try to respond in-kind. So they know there is a "tie that binds" us together.
We need to be bound to others. Even Jesus, after He was risen, put the deep question to Peter. "Peter, do you love me?"
The deepest and dearest things in life are invisible ties. In that sense the truest realities are unseen bonds. So precious. So powerful.
Between Jesus and us. And between us all in the church, the "body" of Christ on earth. Oh, blessed tie!
Love you all,
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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